3 out of 4 stars
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End of the Last Great Kingdom by Victor Rose tells the tale of a young boy's journey to become a mage and awaken his powers. Though he has barely just begun his education, Brimstone soon finds himself at the center of a political coverup and is used as a scapegoat for the deaths of students at his school. Before long Brimstone is on the run and a war is brewing throughout the country. Brimstone and his friends face a great many trials as they navigate the world around them and try to do what's right.
The book's synopsis describes it as a fast-paced story and I have to say that I agree. In the strangest of ways, End of the Last Great Kingdom was both rushed and drawn out. The bulk of the prose is spent moving characters from one place to another in order to follow a specific plot, which ultimately resulted in the loss of important character development. While Rose writes engaging scenes, there are few and they are often followed with lengthy summaries of the characters movements. This made the writing feel abrupt and jolted, ultimately interrupting the flow of the novel.
Unfortunately, certain scenes in the story feel random and out of place, especially in the beginning. Several events serve simply to provide a potential backstory that the author never once returns to and adds little to the book as a whole. Rose regularly included a lot of information to explain the world, but often proceeded to do absolutely nothing with it. Some plot points contradict each other as well. The beginning was more confusing than anything else since it seems to set up for an entirely different story. Foreshadowing is basically nonexistent, replaced instead with conveniently added plot points that are peppered throughout the novel at the very exact moment they are needed.
I often found myself wondering how realistic the characters and their actions were. Though they are described as young children, they rarely act in a way that portrays this. Everyone seems far too grown up for their age, even with the added fact that the novel takes place over the course of multiple years. The dialogue is odd on occasion, particularly in the case of the main character, Brimstone, who often makes statements that felt genuinely weird to read. I was also not a fan of the awkward romance between Brimstone and Heat, primarily due to the fact that the two characters are never really written getting to know each other. They spend much of the book apart and their romance is summed up quickly in a few small paragraphs.
Regardless, Rose does write a fantastically intriguing novel. His overall plot was quite interesting and I deeply enjoyed the moments where he spent time letting the readers get to know his characters. Battle scenes were well written and engaging. I also found myself really enjoying the path that Brimstone found himself on throughout the course of the novel. The characters I liked most in this story were the ones Brimstone met along his journey. There was always something about the book that kept me reading and eager to learn what would happen next.
While there were a few grammatical errors in the book, they did not distract from the book itself. I personally believe that there are a number of issues with this book that Rose should address to improve it, but at the end of the day, I saw a lot of potential in a story written by an author who is very capable of keeping his readers interested. It is for this reason that I decided to rate End of the Last Great Kingdom 3 out of 4 stars. I enjoyed reading this book despite its flaws. I think this book could appeal to people who enjoy fantasy novels, particularly younger readers.
End of the Last Great Kingdom
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